By JACK VANASSCHE, Sports Editor
After a dramatic overtime win in the first round of the ACHA Men’s Division I National Championships, the No. 9 University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines will face No. 1 Minot State University on Sunday night with a spot in the semifinals on the line at 8 p.m. at the OhioHealth Ice Haus in Columbus, Ohio.
One of the highlights for the Wolverines in the regular season came from their roller coaster shootout win over No. 1 Minot State in mid-February. The Wolverines split that home series with the Beavers, having lost the first game of the series by a goal.
Minot State enters as the favorite on paper. For the last three months, no team has been able to unseat the Beavers atop the ACHA national rankings. With their game on Sunday, the Beavers will appear in their sixth consecutive national quarterfinals. Their last title came in the 2012-2013 season.
The Beavers will also be playing in hopes to not repeat their past mistakes. Last season, MSU was upset in the national quarterfinals by Iowa State University.
In the first round of play, Minot State handled No. 17 Colorado State, 4-0. Goaltender Joshua Bykowski is currently the owner of the only shutout so far in these ACHA National Championships.
Also available in net for the Beavers is Holden Kurtz, who posted a 13-2-2 record in the regular season and allowed an average of 1.93 goals per game.
The Wolverines will need to play a better game against Minot State than they did against Robert Morris in the first round, as UM-Dearborn was outshot and committed several turnovers.
Facing such strong goaltending, UM-Dearborn will need to get the most out of leading forwards Tyler Groat and Kevin Bechard in order to jump start an offense that looked sluggish at times in round one.
Goalie Thomas Proudlock may be the deciding factor in Sunday night’s game.
Proudlock was forced to come up with big saves against Robert Morris on Saturday and came through with stop after stop to keep the Wolverines in the game. If he can keep up with the goaltending of Bykowski or Kurtz, the Wolverines will have an equal chance to advance.
The winner of Sunday night’s game will enter the semifinals, where teams are re-seeded within the final four teams to determine their competition for Monday night’s semifinal games.
A link to a live stream of the game can be found at athletics.umdearborn.edu